AIIB conference focus on dispute resolution

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Professor Georg Nolte meets with AIIB President Jin Liqun to discuss the importance of the rule of law in both the effectiveness and mandate of multilateral development banks such as the AIIB.
Professor Georg Nolte meets with AIIB President Jin Liqun to discuss the importance of the rule of law in both the effectiveness and mandate of multilateral development banks such as the AIIB.

More than 80 top-level counsel ensured the growth and success of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank’s (AIIB) second Legal Conference and Law Lecture, held on 5-6 September, at AIIB Headquarters in Beijing.

The theme of this year’s conference, chaired by AIIB’s head of corporate law, Peter Quayle, was one essential to large-scale infrastructure projects: International Organizations and the Promotion of Effective Dispute Resolution.

“Dispute resolution needs to be timely, efficient and legitimate to succeed,” Quayle told Asia Business Law Journal. “MDBs [multilateral development banks] should lead the way. The highlight of the AIIB Legal Conference is the combination of authoritative practitioners and leading scholars, an encounter which is unusual elsewhere and which contributes to informed but rigorous analysis and problem-solving.”

AIIB general counsel Gerard Sanders said key takeaways of the conference included that international organizations can lead in this arena, but also have a lot to learn from an engaged and energetic private sector. “International arbitration – particularly in our Asia region – is innovative, client-focused, and increasingly indispensable to large-scale multi-jurisdictional infrastructure projects, the likes of which form the focus of the AIIB’s mandate,” said Sanders.

He said there were also some unexpected outcomes from the conference. “Technology, including artificial intelligence, is likely to have a transformative effect on dispute resolution,” he said. “This, together with the interplay between increasingly ambitious state-sponsored alternative dispute resolution forums and the pioneering private sector.

“We’re looking forward to seeing this all reflected when the conference is written-up by our speakers for the second edition of the AIIB Yearbook of International Law, launched at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the AIIB’s board of governors in Luxembourg.”

Conference attendees were drawn from the highest levels of international organizations and international financial institutions including: the general counsel of the Bank of International Settlements, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Nordic Investment Bank, African Development Bank, Global Fund and Green Climate Fund; the secretary-general of the Permanent Court of Arbitration; distinguished academics from China, the US, Singapore, South Korea and the UK; and senior representatives of the world’s leading international arbitration venues, including the China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, Singapore International Arbitration Centre, Dubai International Financial Centre Dispute Resolution Authority, International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration and London Court of Arbitration.

Professor Georg Nolte, distinguished international jurist and chair of the International Law Commission of the United Nations (69th session, 2017-2018) provided the 2018 AIIB law lecture, hosted by AIIB’s Head of Institutional Law, Xuan Gao, on the subject of International Organizations in the Recent Work of the International Law Commission, to conclude the conference.

Alvin Koh, chief legal officer with the legal directorate at the Ministry of Finance in Singapore, applauded AIIB for a “brilliant” conference. “The presentations, discussions and intellectual sparring that took place during the two days of the conference were impressive to say the least, and very relevant to the work that we do,” said Koh. “It was also an exceptional occasion to meet new colleagues from other jurisdictions, academia and lawyers from the key law firms.”